Carlos Bocanegra explains Atlanta United’s decisions in transfer window

Atlanta United defender Juan Jose Purata (22) scores his first career MLS goal with a header against Orlando City during the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday, July 17, 2022. Miguel Martinez /Miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com

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Atlanta United defender Juan Jose Purata (22) scores his first career MLS goal with a header against Orlando City during the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday, July 17, 2022. Miguel Martinez /Miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com

Space under its salary cap was among the reasons that Atlanta United wasn’t more active during the transfer window that closed in MLS on Thursday, according to club vice president Carlos Bocanegra.

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The club added centerback JuanJo Purata on a loan from Tigres in LIGA MX, goalkeeper Raul Gudino on a six-month contract that has an option for next season and winger Edwin Mosquera on a four-year contract. Purata has made five appearances, including four starts. The other two players have yet to play. Mosquera arrived at the club Tuesday. It will host Seattle on Saturday.

“We were limited in what we could do from a financial and cap perspective, but we are happy that we were able to bring in the likes of those three to add to the group and fill some of the holes that we felt needed to be addressed,” Bocanegra said.

Bocanegra said the club didn’t receive any offers for striker Josef Martinez, who has one year remaining on his contract. Bocanegra said the team has an option on Martinez, who has 99 goals in the regular season and playoffs, for the 2024 season. He said he has had conversations with Martinez’s agent, but doesn’t feel that the situation is urgent.

“We know what he’s meant to this club, the city, the fan base, so he’s still under contract for a considerable amount of time with us,” Bocanegra said.

Instead, Bocanegra said he is focusing on doing everything he can to help manager Gonzalo Pineda guide the team to the playoffs. Season-ending Injuries up the spine of the formation to goalkeeper Brad Guzan, centerback Miles Robinson and defensive midfielder Ozzie Alonso have negatively affected the team. At least 20 injuries have resulted in players missing multiple games. The team is four points below the seven-team playoff line, with 12 games remaining. Fullbacks Brooks Lennon, Ronald Hernandez and Andrew Gutman recently returned from injuries. Bocanegra said they add quality to the group. Lennon and Gutman were starters before their injuries. Gutman has made 13 appearances, Lennon 14 and Hernandez seven.

“Our goal at the beginning of the season was trying to get the Supporters Shield and compete for that, obviously going to try and win a championship,” Bocanegra said. “Now we need to get into the playoffs and really catch heat and try to make a run for the Cup this year. So that’s really where our focus has shifted.”

Bocanegra said the team couldn’t bring in another veteran midfielder to replace Alonso and add some grit and experience because of a lack of cap space. He said the team has total confidence that Santiago Sosa, who also has dealt with numerous injuries, can step in for Alonso. Sosa has made 10 appearances.

Bocanegra said the club hasn’t been able to find a commonality to the Achilles injuries suffered by Guzan, Robinson and backup goalkeeper Dylan Castanheira. He said they have shared and looked at research from the Falcons and have had the turf at Mercedes-Benz Stadium and the training pitches examined. He said it’s frustrating not to know why the injuries happened. He said he has confidence in the team’s sports-science department.

With Darren Eales’ departure as president to join Newcastle of the Premier League as CEO, Bocanegra said his job will not change. He will make personnel decisions at the end of the season in consultation with Steve Cannon, the CEO of Arthur M. Blank Sports and Entertainment, who is serving as the day-to-day president. Bocanegra, who signed a four-year contract extension before the season, said he is excited to meet the new president. Cannon said he hopes to announce the hire by the end of the year. Search firms are being interviewed.

“It’s been fantastic working with him,” Bocanegra said of Eales. “Great mentor, great guy that for eight years (I) got to learn from and see him work and do his thing. Now he gets to go to one of the top-five projects in the world in the Premier League and a really cool experience for him. So we’ll miss him, and I’ll miss him as a sounding board.”

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Atlanta United’s 2022 MLS schedule

Feb. 27 Atlanta United 3, Sporting KC 1

March 5 Colorado 3, Atlanta United 0

March 13 Atlanta United 2, Charlotte 1

March 19 Atlanta United 3, Montreal 3

April 2 Atlanta United 1, D.C. United 0

April 10 Charlotte 1, Atlanta United 0

April 16 Atlanta United 0, Cincinnati 0

April 24 Miami 2, Atlanta United 1

April 30 Montreal 2, Atlanta United 1

May 7 Atlanta United 4, Chicago 1

May 15 Atlanta United 2, New England 2

May 21 Atlanta United 2, Nashville 2

May 28 Columbus 2, Atlanta United 1

June 19 Atlanta United 2, Miami 0

June 25 Toronto 2, Atlanta United 1

June 30 New York Red Bulls 2, Atlanta United 1

July 3 Atlanta United 2, NYCFC 2

July 9 Austin 3, Atlanta United 0

July 13 Atlanta United 2, Real Salt Lake 1

July 17 Atlanta United 1, Orlando 1

July 24 L.A. Galaxy 2, Atlanta United 0

July 30 Atlanta United 0, Chicago 0

August 6 vs. Seattle, 3 p.m., ABC

August 13 at Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m. BSSO/BSSE

August 17 vs. New York Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

August 21 at Columbus, 5:30 p.m., FS1

August 28 vs. D.C. United, 4 p.m., UNIV

August 31 at Philadelphia, 7 p.m., FS1

Sept. 4 at Portland, 5:30 p.m., FOX

Sept. 10 vs. Toronto, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Sept. 14 at Orlando, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Sept 17 vs. Philadelphia, 3:30 p.m., UniMas

Oct. 1 at New England, 1 p.m., UniMas

Oct. 9 vs. NYCFC, TBD, BSSO/BSSE